The Box in Plymouth has received a major boost ahead of its spring 2020 opening, after receiving a new grant award of £380,506 from Arts Council England’s (ACE) Capital: Small Grants fund.
The programme supports building improvements for arts and cultural organisations – helping them create enhanced spaces to produce and present their work, collaborate with artists and audiences and build their resilience and sustainability.
Indeed, curators of the new £37m heritage attraction are busy searching for artefacts for the exhibition - titled Mayflower 400: Legend and Legacy’ - and more than 100 museums, libraries and archives in the UK, the Netherlands and the USA have already donated a number of objects that tell forgotten stories linked to the Pilgrims’ historic voyage in 1620.
The funding for The Box is part of an £12m investment across the UK revealed by ACE, and will support the installation of Bluetooth lighting fixtures in all its galleries, a flexible lighting system in one of its exhibition spaces and the fit-out of an extended kitchen and bistro bar so it can provide an evening meal and drinks offer to both the public and corporate hire clients.
Artist's impression of The Box
The overall award will see more than £1.7 million invested in the South West and also includes a £270,000 grant to Plymouth’s KARST gallery for an eco-efficient heating system and a fully-accessible main entrance.
The improvements to both The Box and KARST’s infrastructure come as Plymouth’s visual arts scene continues to flourish and as the city starts its preparations for hosting British Art Show 9 in autumn 2021.
Cllr Tudor Evans, Plymouth City Council leader, said: “I’m blown away by this news of yet more funding support for The Box from ACE, who really seem to understand how hard we’re working to create a leading heritage and cultural attraction for the city, the region and beyond.
“The improvements this funding will enable will increase the high design quality of the building and enrich the gallery experience for everyone who visits and works with us. It will also enhance The Box’s long-term financial viability through additional catering and venue hire opportunities.”
Much of the lighting and fit-out works will be completed in time for the opening of The Box. Some additional lighting improvements will then be made in the summer of 2021, before British Art Show 9 is installed.
Artist's impression of The Box
Phil Gibby, South West area director for ACE, added: “We are extremely pleased to invest in The Box through our Capital Grants funding programme.
“We are looking forward to next year’s Mayflower 400 commemorations when The Box will open as the flagship venue for Plymouth and beyond. This building project will support St Luke’s Church’s role as a prominent visual arts gallery for visitors in 2020 and for many generations to come.
“We’ve also announced an award to the city’s independent art gallery, KARST, which will equip them with the necessary infrastructure to become a key British Art Show 9 venue – yet another contribution to Plymouth’s growing cultural reputation.”
Arts Council England (ACE) is the national development body for arts and culture across England, working to enrich people’s lives.
It supports a range of activities across the arts, museums and libraries – from theatre to visual art, reading to dance, music to literature, and crafts to collections.
Between 2018 and 2022, ACE will invest £1.45bn of public money from government and an estimated £860m from the National Lottery to help create these experiences for as many people as possible across the country.
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